Read Devil in Her Dreams Online

Authors: Jane Charles

Tags: #alpha male, #regency england, #anthology, #regency anthology, #catherine gayle, #jerrica knightcatania, #jane charles, #ava stone, #espionage

Devil in Her Dreams (3 page)

BOOK: Devil in Her Dreams
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Well.” He resisted the urge to pull at his suddenly tight cravat.

Would you care for some tea? I could ring for another cup.”

He glanced at the service for one on the table beside her. “No thank you.” Too bad she wasn’t drinking brandy. That was something he would welcome.

Would you care to join me while we wait for the rest of the family?” She indicated to a seat across from her.

Thank you.” Devlin settled into the matching blue chair and tried to think of something to say.

Tell me of your sisters.” She tied off a thread, then folded the fabric and put it in the basket beside her chair before straightening her skirts. Blast, she just covered her ankles.

My sisters?”

Yes, you said you had three?”

She reached forward and picked up her cup of tea. The movement caused the fabric to tighten across her breasts, and Devlin had to shift in his seat to become more comfortable. It had been years since a woman had caused such a reaction without even a touch and it was most disconcerting. Maybe he had simply been without a woman for too long. Yes, that was it. The last time he had enjoyed the intimate company of a female had been in Paris. That was nine months ago. No wonder he was as randy as a green lad.

Are you sure you don’t wish for some tea, Lord Marston?” She arched an eyebrow as she brought the cup to her lips.

Heat crept up his neck. He hadn’t answered her question. Thank goodness Miss Whitton didn’t work for the French, or he could envision divulging every secret just to place his lips where that damn delicate cup pressed. “No, thank you.”

You don’t wish to talk of your sisters?”

Yes, his sisters, she’d asked about them. “I have three.”

I know.” She smiled and set the cup in the saucer and held both on her lap.

The oldest is Calista.” He could feel a smile come to his face. “Always quiet and a bit shy.” Sometimes, one didn’t even know she was in the room. “Thoughtful too. I wish the other two were more like her. The most levelheaded of the three, that is for certain.”

How old is she?”

Two and twenty.”

Miss Whitton’s eyebrows rose. “And she hasn’t been married off already?”

There was an edge to her tone that he couldn’t quite understand. But Miss Whitton was correct. Calista should have been settled long before now. If Father had insisted on a betrothal instead of simply accepting an understanding, his sister would be wed by now. “I intend to rectify the matter.” If anyone, Calista needed a kind gentleman, and hopefully she could forget about that scapegrace Ellis.

For a fraction of a moment, Miss Whitton narrowed her eyes and pursed her lips. He may have missed the reaction had he not been watching closely, as she quickly looked down and lifted the teacup to those full lips once again.

And the other two?” she asked after taking a drink.

Miranda.” He sighed heavily after her saying her name. The bane of his existence.

Miss Whitton quirked her lips. “I take it you and Miranda don’t get along.”

They did actually, for the most part, or had at one time. “Miranda is secretive and it scares me, to tell you the truth.”

And you don’t have secrets from her?”

A smile pulled at Miss Whitton’s lips and her eyes narrowed, as if she had her own to keep. He would dearly love to know them. “That’s different. I am not a young miss. I worry that she’ll take unnecessary risks.” Devlin would have to be a fool to believe they’d had their last argument over a certain volatile topic. “Unlike Calista, Miranda doesn’t think of potential consequences before she acts.”

Miss Whitton simply nodded. Did her eyes hold compassion?

How old is Miranda?” Miss Whitton asked before she took another sip of her tea.

She is ten and nine.”

She nodded. If he were correct in his estimate, Miss Whitton and Miranda were about the same age. Yet, Miss Whitton held an air of maturity his younger sister lacked. There was also something calming about Miss Whitton, relaxing and trusting that made him want to release all of his burdens and embrace her serenity. Maybe she and Miranda would become friends during the Season, and Miss Whitton could be a steadying influence on his sister. If she were close to his sister, then Miss Whitton would be close to him and he could watch them both, but for two entirely different reasons.

The youngest, at ten and eight, is Penelope.”

Your sisters all have interesting and lovely names?”

Devlin chuckled. “Their mother, my step-mother, was from Greece. Unfortunately, all three sisters inherited her beauty, with dark hair, olive skin, and light eyes.”

She chuckled. “I think I begin to understand your real concern.” She paused as if recognition dawned. “I met two of your sisters, though briefly, the Season before last. They are very beautiful.”

The three of them could not go anywhere without catching the eye of every living, breathing man in their vicinity. That was what scared him the most. How could he protect his sisters from the wolves clothed as gentlemen in London? “In that, you are correct, Miss Whitton.”

Tell me about Penelope.” She set her saucer and now empty cup on the table.

Penny is spoiled, and she is by far the most talkative. She would drive me to Bedlam on her own, except what says is of import.”

Miss Whitton settled back in the chair and folded her hands on her lap. “How so?”

She can’t keep a secret. Her own or anyone else’s, for that matter. That is usually how I find out what the other two are up to.”

Miss Whitton chuckled.

Did you keep your sister’s secrets when you were young?”


I keep them now, and she doesn’t even realize it.
“Yes,” Louisa responded. “Not that we had many.”

You and Mrs. Trent must not have given your father much difficulty as children.”

Vicars’ daughters are expected to behave a certain way, as are granddaughters of dukes.” In other words, they had the most boring childhood anyone could imagine, unless her cousin, Edgeworth was visiting.

She needed to take the subject away from her and Elizabeth, however. Louisa was never comfortable talking about herself, not that there was anything to say anyway. One learned more from encouraging others to talk. “Coming into the title so unexpectedly must have been very difficult. What did you do before that?” she asked, hoping he would tell her about being a spy, but knowing that he wouldn’t.

I led an unexceptional existence. No different than any other second son, I suppose.”

She nearly snorted at the way he dismissed his past as unimportant, as if all second sons worked for the Home Office? “So you spent your time in society, at gaming hells, flirting with young misses, and collecting your quarterly? I assumed you would have had a profession?”

I did not frequent gaming hells!”

Yet you don’t deny flirting with young misses?” Was she flirting with him now? Goodness, she had never been so bold. But she wanted to be bold. Desperately wanted to for a change.

Only the ones worth flirting with,” he said with a wicked smile.

Heat crept through her veins. “Yet I don’t recall you being present during a Season before.” If he had been in London, she would have remembered him.

I didn’t go into society last spring, other than taking up my seat at the House of Lords.”

But I don’t recall you from the Season before either.”

Marston furrowed his brow as if he were trying to think. More likely he was trying to come up with an excuse she would accept, since the truth was probably something he couldn’t tell her.

I was traveling, I believe.”

She simply nodded. “I’ve not had much opportunity to travel. You must tell me where you have been and what you have seen.”

Marston shifted in his seat, crossed, uncrossed, and crossed his legs again. Goodness, the man really wasn’t prepared with lies, apparently.

My travels weren’t all that exceptional.”

Well, since I’ve only traveled as far as Yorkshire and London, yours would be exceptional to me.”

Where would you like to go?”

His question surprised her. She expected him to tell her a tale of some foreign city, omitting the real reason he had been there, of course. Nobody ever asked what she wanted. They simply assumed. Where would she like to travel to? “I think the first place I would like to go is Scotland.”

He tilted his head and studied her for a moment. “To run off to Gretna Green?”

Heat infused her cheeks. Of course he would think that a miss of her age would be thinking only of marriage. “No.” She chuckled. “My dear friend, who married last spring, now lives in Scotland and it would be nice to visit with her again.” Ever since she had penned the letter to Moira, she had longed to talk to her friend.

Were you two always close?”

It was Louisa’s turn to shift in her seat. Why the questions? Was this how other people felt when she asked about them? They never seemed uncomfortable, so why was she? Maybe it was simply because nobody asked about her life other than how she was faring or about her family.

As children, yes, but then she went away to school.”

You did not?”

No.” She would have dearly wished to, especially after hearing Moira’s tales of her three dear friends from school. “But we remained close and visited whenever she was on holiday.”

Marston acted as if he really wished to know her answer, as if he cared, but she knew better. He was simply making conversation. Besides she already knew he couldn’t be trusted, despite his warm brown eyes and handsome-as-sin face. She couldn’t risk being even more attracted to him, knowing he could lie as easily as her brother-in-law and she should remind herself of that fact instead of wondering what it would be like to kiss those firm lips which smiled so easily.

Goodness, she shouldn’t be thinking about his lips or kissing. She’d never wondered about what it would be like with any other gentleman before, so why was she thinking those things about Lord Marston?

She must push all thoughts from her mind. After all, she knew what he was really like. No different in his beliefs than her grandfather and most gentlemen in society.

Tell me, Lord Marston, have you already chosen your sister’s husbands, or will you at least give them a choice?”


Devlin stared at Louisa. “They will have a choice, of course.”

She raised an eyebrow and nodded. “I thought perhaps you didn’t think they were capable of making such a decision for themselves.”

He once again resisted the urge to pull at his cravat. Why did he feel as if she just accused him of some heinous act all of a sudden? What had he done or said wrong? “They haven’t shown an interest in anyone, other than Calista, once.”

Perhaps they haven’t met anyone interesting.”

Devlin straightened. “I know for a fact that several gentlemen have wished to court them.”

Perhaps they didn’t think those gentlemen were worth consideration.”

Those damn kissable lips were frowning at him. How did he get in this situation? For some reason it was very important that he choose his words carefully, though he wasn’t sure why. “Perhaps my sisters haven’t given them a chance. It is time they married.”

Why is it that ladies are expected to marry by a certain age, whereas gentlemen are not?”

It is simply a matter of the difference in genders.” There was nothing wrong with a gentleman waiting until he was much older to take a wife.

I think it is because gentlemen have more opportunities for enjoyment in society. They have gentlemen’s clubs, gaming hells, Tattersall’s, racing, and a number of pastimes a lady is not allowed.”

A gentlewoman, such as yourself, should be cared for and protected.”

A small smile came to her lips. “I can assure you I need no protection. I think ladies simply marry because there is little else to do outside of the Season.”

BOOK: Devil in Her Dreams
3.58Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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